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“Dissapointing” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Shibula Lodge & Bush Spa

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Shibula Lodge & Bush Spa
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4.5 of 5 Lodge   |   Site 26 Welgevonden Game Reserve, Vaalwater 530, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Johannesburg, South Africa
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2012

We recently visited two game lodges and spent 3 nights at each. We chose Shibula for the 2nd stay as it is advertised as a 5* lodge, has a spa, Big Five and thought this would be a perfect place to celebrate my husband’s birthday during our stay.
The location is good; and took 3hours to drive from Johannesburg. We were met at the Main Gate by Shaun; who would be our game ranger for the time we spent at the lodge. A 45 minute drive brought us to Shibula; and we were welcomed by singing staff and a refreshing drink.
The main area of the lodge is nice. We stayed in room 8; which was large and spacious. Plenty has been written on Trip Advisor to give guests in depth information about the room facilities; so I will not elaborate further on this aspect.
The aspects which we found very disappointing and which we felt did not meet 5* service is as follows:-
•Rooms could do with a good cleaning. Found an empty shampoo bottle in the outside shower area and loads of cigarette butts around our patio area and around the outside shower, left by previous guests.
•Mini bar was stocked on arrival; and during the 2nd evening dinner asked Jason if anyone could replenish some items like bottled water before we go to bed. This was not done, and only replenished the next day after speaking to Shaun about various things we were disappointed with. The mini bar also needs a good clean.
•Outdated television guide in the room. We did not use the TV in our room; but think that for a 5* lodge, this should not be?
•Two small bottles of shampoo/conditioner and shower gel supplied on arrival …. And then never again during our stay.
•Large holes in the mosquito netting and obvious places where this had been repaired ….. holes in netting not going to serve its purpose & very tacky!
•Meals were very disappointing, not well prepared and definitely not 5 star!
-Boxed cornflakes with pink/strawberry yogurt served with a sliver of pawpaw and pineapple.
-Two mornings we asked for a bowl of fruit salad in lieu of the cornflakes; to be presented with a chopped apple and orange! Found this unacceptable especially when there is a variety of in-season fruits which could be used to make this more appetizing.
-No condiments offered or available at the breakfast buffet. Had to always ask for this.
-Cheap looking and mismatched cutlery.
-Tea/coffee was available at the breakfast buffet …. self help & sachet style. No chance of receiving a served cup of hot delicious smelling percolated coffee at this lodge!
-Very ordinary and basic green salad served at various times. Sometimes with a salad dressing and sometimes not!
-Choice of two main dishes given at dinner. Fillet steak on 1st evening consisted of two tiny “finger sized” slices with gravy that tasted if it came out of a box. Last evening chose the grilled hake; this too was two “finger sized” portions so overcooked, you needed a steak knife to cut through it.

•The 2nd day, my husband’s birthday was the biggest disappointment. I asked one of the lady managers early in the morning if it would be possible to present my husband with a birthday cake and some staff to sing “Happy Birthday” at the end of the meal. Dinner that evening was in the boma for a traditional South African braai. Again the meal was a total disappointment with meat choices consisting of overcooked boerewors and chicken drum sticks! At the end of the meal nothing happened, so spoke to Jason who was on dinner duty. He seemed oblivious of my requests & hastily rustled up some staff to sing and present my husband with a bottle of wine. I discussed all the aspects we had found disappointing at the lodge with Shaun the next morning. He apologized and did try to fix things. Our mini-bar was restocked, and after dinner on our last evening my husband was presented with a birthday cake by singing staff ….. Somewhat a little late!

At no point during our stay did any member of senior management apologize or discuss any of the aspects we raised with Shaun. We have been to numerous lodges and feel that Shibula has so much potential, are very fortunate to have a consistent stream of foreign visitors; but are under delivering for a 5 star lodge.
Shaun our game ranger has a wonderful sense of humour and ensured wonderful game drives. He pointed out amazing things from big to small …. He is an asset to the lodge.
We would not rush back to Shibula; too many other lodges to choose from who do deliver on all aspects.

Room Tip: We stayed in room 8 which is a little/easy walk away from the central area. Rooms available for fami...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Shibula L, Manager at Shibula Lodge & Bush Spa, responded to this review, April 10, 2013
Good day

Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback regarding our Lodge. As management we are certainly disappointed that your stay was not all that it should have been.

I would like to apologize on behalf of Shibula and its team for your stay. Kindly note the Lodge has recently come under new ownership and the management has begun a programme of refurbishments and upgrade to the facilities, which we trust will enhance our guests’ experience at our wonderful Lodge.

We are grateful for your positive and negative comments of the lodge. We shall take note of your comments to help us to continue to raise our standards of customer service, and we would welcome you to visit us again and see the difference for yourself.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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42 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (13)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Johannesburg, South Africa
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 18, 2012

Our first visit, but definately not our last. Warm welcoming staff and caring descerning game rangers made our trip very special. The lack of cellphone reception was a bonus and allowed for a full wind down during our stay. Sean our game ranger excelled in knowledge and quirky sense of humour, the variation in game and birdlife was exceptional. While reading on our stoepe we could hear the Lion roar and the Elephant trumpet, the lion seemed a little too close so we beat a hasty retreat to the lounge until we felt safe enough to venture out again. The food was nothing short of spectacular and held its own with the best Joburg has to offer. We recommend the honeymoon cottage with the spar bath which was just the trick for the cooler spring evenings.
We will certainly see you again !!!! Rob & Suna

Room Tip: The honeymooon cottage was first class.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2012

We chose Shibula for the convenience factor-- it's an easy 2.5 hours from Pretoria. The lodge definitely lived up to its reviews. It was a beautful retreat deep inside Welgevonden reserve. The rooms are nice-- we had a seperate sitting area, mini bar, beautful four poster bed, and a very large victorian style bathroom with an indoor and outdoor shower. The outdoor jacuzzi was nice to climb into on a cool late winter night.

The food was very good and the bar prices reasonable. There were many extra touches-- sunddowners on the evening game drive and hot towels and sherry after, coffee and rusks before the morning game drive and more coffee in the reserve. The reserve itself is very good! I didn't expect to see so many animals given that this is one of the youngest reserves in South Africa. We saw many, many rhinos, elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, etc.

Even though this is a 5 star safari experience, the lodge is child-friendly. We took advantage of the baby sitting service and our son had fun with the babysitter while we were out on safari. They even made our baby a special meal.

All in all, Shibula is good value for the money. We will be back!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco Bay Area
Top Contributor
154 reviews 154 reviews
34 hotel reviews
Reviews in 63 cities Reviews in 63 cities
78 helpful votes 78 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2012

Just completed a vacation in Africa, which included 3 nights at Shibula. I had visited here in 2010 and had decided to include it again on this trip.

I was not disappointed, and in fact was very pleased again with all aspects of our experience. My daughters and I had the family suite, which includes two bedrooms, living room and private pool. Yes it was winter time, and the pool was quite cold....but the accommodations were fantastic.

The food was tremendous. Our travel agent had alerted the camp that one person in our party was a vegetarian. And there were always great options for all the meals that took this into account.

The primary reason we were here, were the game rides. Our guide Thomas did a superb job of getting us to the right spot at the right time. Our major highlight was experiencing the immediate aftermath of a kill by a pride of lions. Tremendous game experience.

We also had a few special needs on timing of our departure, and the team helped making sure it was setup correctly so that we could meet our flight in Johannesburg for the next stop on our vacation.

A suggestion to improve the experience, would be to drop the separate charges for drinks while staying at the lodge. I found this part of the wrap up billing to be a negative. I would have preferred a rate that was all inclusive. At another game camp we used, that was the case and it was a better way to go from my view.

No hesitation to recommend you stay at Shibula. The accommodations, the food and the game experience are all tremendous.

Room Tip: I've now stayed in two different rooms at the lodge. The only difference I found was the size a...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2012

Wonderful 2nd visit. Beautiful clean and comfortable accommodation. Delicious food...wonderful staff. ..very good spa facilities. Game ranger Sello wonderful.
We saw very good game: lion, cheetah, elephants, buck,rhino and many more. Hope to return soon.

Room Tip: All rooms beautiful..not all have a jacuzzi..so try to request one...also ask to preheat before your...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The Hague, The Netherlands
13 reviews 13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2012

During the first part of our holiday in South Africa we went on safari in Madikwe, Pilanesberg, Welgevonden and Addo. Welgevonden Game Reserve is the least known of these reserves and we were very curious about what the experience would be like.

After a very relaxing (self) drive from Pilanesberg we arrived in Shibula were we met our ranger, Shaun. The drive to the lodge was already a game drive and we were greated by the staff who welcomed us like we were royalty. We were the only 2 visitors that day and got escorted to our room. This was one of the most beautiful rooms we have ever stayed in. Beautiful beds and with a jacuzzi on our deck, which was great during the cold evenings in September, although also very exciting as an elephant was closeby during the afternoon.

Wildlife was not as plentiful as in Madikwe but this was made up by our ranger Shaun who was the best! He was not only the most knowledgeable ranger we met during our safaris in South Africa and Kenya, but also great fun to be with. Interesting information about flora and fauna, from very small to very big.

Food was also excellent, and we will never forgot our diner in the wine cellar. We didn't dare to leave as there was an elephant right outside.

Everything was really luxurious but at the same we felt very relaxed. As we had a scheduled flight we couldn't extend our stay, but we hated that we had to leave.

A very special place!

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
19 reviews 19 reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2012

In january we stayed with 17 KLM crewmembers plus family in Shibula lodge. We were welcomed by the entire staff with a welcome song. Then we were taken to our rooms, which are so cozy! Well decorated, comfortable beds you never want to leave..... except to go on safari early in the morning!!! You feel at home instantly. The lounge with adjacent terrace is another example of warm and welcoming atmosphere. The food was served either inside or outside, weather depending.... Absolutely delicious and so much.....To go on safari (beautiful game reserve, Welgevonden Park)and stay in one of the best hotels you can imagine whilst being in the middle of a wonderfull nature game reserve, I would highly recomment Shibula lodge to other travellers!

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shibula Lodge & Bush Spa

Address: Site 26 Welgevonden Game Reserve, Vaalwater 530, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Limpopo Province > Waterberg > Vaalwater
Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #10 of 31 Specialty Lodging in Vaalwater
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Shibula Lodge & Bush Spa 4.5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Shibula Lodge & Spa offers the discerning visitor a luxurious taste of wild Africa. Situated in the malaria free Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, Limpopo Province, a mere 2.5 hours' self-drive from Johannesburg. Look forward to an encounter with an lion on the hunt, a cheetah on the plains, a rhino calf with its mother or a herd of elephant during a game drive with experienced rangers.Return to the luxury of peace, experience nature in the comfort of each of Shibula's eight luxurious en-suite rooms. Equipped with telephone, air-conditioning, full bathroom, tea/coffee facilities, own patio and an outside shower. The Suite option of outside jacuzzi,private pool or inside spa bath caters for your preferential choice.Sooth the stresses of daily life with the sophisticated pampering of our Bush Spa, feast on fresh delights and experience Africa in all its untamed magnificence with our starlit boma dinners.Our superbly decorated main lodge boasts a reading corner and an elegant lounge and dining area. A sprawling deck with magnificent views leads one to the swimming pool overlooking the surrounding bush.Daily guided safaris on an open safari vehicle in the 36 000ha Reserve, afford guests the opportunity to get up-close and personal with some of Africa's untamed and most majestic creatures, as well as the magnificent plant life which abounds in this region of the country. The reserve is well stocked with lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, rhino, elephant, zebra, giraffe and many other mammals, birds and trees. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Shibula Lodge & Bush Spa Vaalwater, Waterberg, South Africa

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